It is easy to be carried away from the things that truly matter to us. One day you wake up and realize that your family life doesn't look the way you imagined it before you had children, or your life- work balance is not what you were hopping for. Or maybe your child is in a middle of a tantrum and you are loosing it too, although you committed to raising your children in a different way you were raised. "No yelling in our home". You believed in that and yet you find yourself yelling at your child.
Parenting days- I mean real parenting days- are not like the ones we see on social medias. There are good days and there are bad days too. Days when we are happy about who we are and what we do, and days when we feel guilty and lost. But the good news is: we can always try again.
It took me a while until I started using my knowledge and skills as a coach in my life as a mother. But when I adapted and used them on daily basis I realized that I was able to overcome many of my challenges and struggles. So I want to share with you one of the tools that has been helping me over the years. It has enabled me to stay focused on what matters to us as a family.
How not to be carried away by our fears, doubts? By what our family and friends think we should be doing with our children, or by what social media shows us to be "the perfect way that works for every family"?
Values. Family Values- Get to know what truly matters to you, to your family
As a life coach, I use this tool each time I work with a new client . Why? Because values are who we are. They can serve us like a lighthouse, pointing out the way to our true self. As a parent, I have discovered that when we live our values on regular and consistent basis, we make better decisions and we live a fulfilled life with our partner and children.
Find a piece of paper and allow yourself some time to explore your family values. I recommend you to try some of these exercices and avoid choosing values from a list.
1/ Identify a special moment in your family's life. Try to remember a time when life was good and you felt happy and fulfilled. There was a shared happiness and joy in your family, amongst all the members. What happened? Who was there? What were you doing? Your children, your partner? What made this moment so special? Write on your piece of paper the words that come to your mind
2/ Another way to look at your values is to explore a moment when you felt frustration and anger. What happened? What were the circumstances? Who was with you? How did you feel? Write down the words that come to your mind. Very often, the moments of unhappiness and distress are the signals that one or several values are not honored or have been suppressed.
In the end, look at your paper and find the words that resonate most with you. You can group some of them together. Sometimes unexpected words come together (for example one mother I worked with wrote "simple things in life/ vital/ surprise/ bubbles"). It doesn't matter if these values are understood by someone outside your family. They need to have meaning to you and sound true.
--> Although these little exercises are effective when done with a coach who can guide you and know how to point out the values shoer he is hearing, I also have the participants to my workshops do these exercices in pairs and it works very well. So this is something you might want to try with your partner. You can also engage the discussion with your children. Children are extremely sensitive and if you listen to them empathically, you will find out what truly matters to their heart and what they value in their family.
Make a board with your family values and put it up on the walls of your house
Words matter. And if you see them every day, and the other members of your family too, this will help you in the moments of doubts and will reinforce the moment of shared joy. Make some beautiful posters with your family values and hang them on the walls of your house. I find it very useful to have them in our rooms, in the kitchen , in the playroom. For younger children you can use drawings and pictures to illustrate each value. Keep it short and simple
Live you family values. Walk the talk
Probably the most difficult thing when we do this kind of introspection work is to put it into practice. This where most of us quit the process. Don't let your family values to be just words and your values board just a piece of paper on the wall. Values are who we are so we have them already in our family's life. Role model your values. Pay attention to what you are doing and point out to your children the things that matter to you. Name the values that they reveal.
I can give you a little example. Gratitude is a core value to me personally and to our family. I start my days with a yoga session and I invite my daughter to join me if she wants to and I do a little gratitude visualisation. Before we have our meals, we say a short poem learnt in our forest playgroup about being grateful to the sun and to the earth who enable us to have our food. In the evening I write in a gratitude journal and I share with my daughter the things I'm grateful for.
Make use of your family values
These values are there for you to use them as an efficient and simple tool to make your life easier. Yes, they have that much power.
- When you reflect about
- your daily rhythm,
- your parenting style
- education methods
- When you make decisions
- When in doubt about yourself
Go back to your family values and ask yourself "How am I honoring my values (each of them) if I'm choosing A? Or B?" Then listen to your heart.
This tool won't make you the perfect parent. It didn't make me either so it's not something I can promise to you. But it is simple and efficient and it can help you touch base over and over again with what truly matters to you.
*** This post is a part of a series called "Mindful Parenting- Tools for Parents". In my work as a life coach and in my own yoga and mindfulness practice, I use a wide range of tools that help my clients find in themselves the ressources to live a fulfilled and balanced life. As a mother, I have too soon discovered how easily we can get out of balance and how hard it is to raise children without loosing ourselves on the way. We might follow trends and other people's ideas on parenting, without paying attention to what can work and already works in our family. Each family is different and each interaction with a child is different. There are no recipes that work for everyone. This I know. That's why I am using these tools: to find my own way as a mother. And I'm sharing them in this series with you so that you can find your own, very precious, unique way too.
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These tools are shared for private use. Duplication for any other use, including resale is strictly prohibited. All content and images on this blog are copyright Cristina Pop- Mothers Abroad, unless otherwise stated. Please contact me by email at email@example.com if you would like to use this material. Thank you :)